GENERAL: Difference between left clicking, right clicking and double clicking

This article is aimed for a basic user and as such may not be fully accurate and contain all the facts as basic users can get confused with details

What is the difference between left clicking, right clicking and double clicking?

And when do I use each?

These are very common questions which the long term computer users take for granted.  But I’m yet to find a simple answer.


A left click is the most frequently used click – it is simply a way of performing an ACTION wherever your mouse is pointing.  In other words, a left click is saying “do this”.  Some examples:-

  • If your mouse is within a document in Word for example, then your cursor will simply move to the location your mouse is pointing
  • If you are pointing at a “button” (like OKAY or CANCEL) then you press the button.
  • If you are on a menu item then you select the menu option.
  • If you are looking at a list of files/photos etc, a single left click may actually just select the file as you are saying “ACTION THIS FILE”.  You then need to decide what you want to do with it 🙂
  • If you see a “link” in internet explorer then clicking it will “open the new link”


A right click is really like asking “What can I do with this?”.  By itself, generally, right clicking doesn’t actually do anything.  If you right click “something” like a picture – you are actually asking “what can I do with this picture”.  Typically a menu will appear showing you the possible options.  If this happens, you would then move your mouse to the option you want and then LEFT CLICK to “DO” the action.

(So “right click” is asking “what can I do with this”.  Then “left click” is telling it to “perform the action” you have chosen.


  • Right click a file in “my documents” and you will see things you can do with that file, such as open, print, rename, delete etc
  • Right click a word in Microsoft Word and you will see things you can do, such as copy, paste, paragraph settings etc


Double clicking only happens with the left button.  Generally as a new user you would only double click on things like your desktop icons, or files in your documents folder.  Double clicking normally opens/runs the thing you clicked.  Examples:-

  • If you double click the Internet icon on your desktop, you open Internet Explorer
  • If you doble click a photo in “my documents”, you open the photo up in a photo viewer.


Thats probably the easiest I can explain it.  There are lots of other things you can do but we’ll save that for another day!